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Firefighters' Union at Odds with Chambersburg Borough Officials Over Wages

"The fire department will absorb everything else in our general fund. It will not lead to better fire or emergency medical services," said Borough Council President Bill McLaughlin.

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The firefighter union in Chambersburg has been at odds with Borough officials over wages and benefits. But, the firefighters won a battle with binding arbitration.

After a neutral arbitrator sided with requests from the firefighters' union, the Borough is fighting act 111, the state law that requires they follow the recommendations made by the arbitrator.

Borough Council President, Bill McLaughlin said it's a decision that is unjust and could cost taxpayers.

"The fire department will absorb everything else in our general fund. It will not lead to better fire or emergency medical services," Bill McLaughlin said.

McLaughin is asking the state to reform Act 111, the policy that governs binding arbitration in situations like this one.

He says Act 111 is unfair to municipalities and tax-payers who will have to foot the bill for wage increases.

"The IAFF, the firefighters union, has a major issue with these amendments throughout Pennsylvania," McLaughlin said.

But the reformed Act would make arbitrators, specifically those involved with unions, like the fire department, more legally responsible. Here's what the Borough officials are looking to do by reforming the act: "(Create) a transparent system, a level playing field for selection, that the cost of arbitration be shared by the municipality and the union," McLaughing said.  "The municipality pays everything right now."

He continued, "…a decision in a timely manor, that the arbitrator provide a statement of the facts that they used in order to make the award, and the awards must be appeal-able."

The reformed Act 111 will be presented to the Pennsylvania State Senate next week and to the House within the next few weeks.

WHAG reached out to the firefighter's union representative for comment, but have not gotten a response. 

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